I loved Flip Wilson when I was a kid. Looooved him. Begged to stay up to watch his show every week and somehow my parents let me. I was six when The Flip Wilson Show ended its four year run on NBC, but I remember it pretty vividly. Apparently, George Carlin was one of the writers, but I think I probably didn't appreciate that at age five, precocious as I was. Flip Wilson drastically cut back on performing after winning custody of his children in 1979, and he passed away at just 64 in 1998. This is my tiny plea that Flip Wilson not be forgotten.
A favorite Flip Wilson joke: "Lots of crazy things happen in traveling. Just last week I was on a train. There was a woman traveling with a baby. UGLY baby! I mean, I'm not one to make comments about anyone's kid -- but this was an UGLY baby. A guy walks down the train -- he's half smashed -- and he stops. And he stares. And the lady says "What are you looking at?" The guy says "I'm looking at that ugly baby." A scene ensues, whereupon the conductor arrives. He says "What's going on here?" The woman says "This man just insulted me!" The conductor says "Now calm down Madam, calm down. We here at the railroad want to make sure that there are no altercations between our passengers and that everyone's trip is as relaxing as possible. Accordingly, if you allow us, please step into the dining car and the railroad will buy you a free meal. And maybe we can find a banana for your monkey."
His most famous character was "Geraldine," and here she is with Ray Charles, and with Muhammad Ali.
Believe me, I know what you must be thinking: Mimes? She's telling me about mimes from the '70's? Yawn.
Ah, but these aren't just any mimes. They are Shields and Yarnell and they were EVERYWHERE in the late '70's. They appeared on the The Red Skelton Show, The Muppet Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. They performed for two American Presidents and Queen Elizabeth II, as well as on a tour of China with comedian Bob Hope. And Shields and Yarnell--a mime couple--had their own primetime show on network TV! I know! It was a crazy time in America!
You can watch the video below to experience the glory and splendor of Shields and Yarnell: